So this is it… the end of the road for the old Stanford Stadium. After 85 years of service, the old girl is going to get a face lift. And liposuction. And a few augmentations here and there.
Moments after Saturday's final gun, some people will get their wish: Stanford Stadium will be demolished. I'm visualizing Bob Murphy doing his postgame interviews from the locker room while wearing a hard hat and dodging debris.
And a few months after the demolition process is complete, everyone will get their wish: a brand new palace for Stanford Football. I know I'm not breaking any new ground (pardon the pun) when I say this, but it's about time. No more funky aluminum bleachers. No more running track. No more seats that sit a mile from the field. No more climbing 846 steps just to get in the stadium, then going down 482 more steps just to get to your seat. As of Sunday, those days will be over.
But you have to admit that some of those days were pretty good ones.
Although there were plenty of Stanford Stadium moments I missed, there were many that I was still able to witness. My first game was in 1993, when the Cardinal beat the Colorado Buffaloes. Steve Stenstrom hit Tony Cline in the back of the end zone at the buzzer, and the Cardinal won in a thriller. Since then, I saw a grand total of 65 Stanford football games behind the Eucalyptus Curtain.
Off the top of my head, I don't know how many Stanford won and lost (although I know they tied once, against Wisconsin in 1995). But over the course of those 65 games, we saw and experienced almost everything.
There were games that broke our hearts. U$C last year. Washington in 2000. UC Davis and UCLA this year. There were games that put us on top of the world. UCLA in 2001. Texas in 2000. And, of course, Big Game 1999.
There were certain plays that I swear I'll take to my grave with me. I'll never forget Tony Gonzalez' fumble in the 1995 Big Game. Or Washington running back Rashaan Shehee's zig-zag game-breaking run against the Cardinal earlier that year. Or Andre Kirwan saving the day with his 49-yard miracle catch against the Ducks in 1996. Or Joe Borchard's game-saving scramble against North Carolina in 1998. Or Teyo Johnson's eye-popping one-handed grab against UCLA in 2001. Or Casey Moore running 94 yards to a Rose Bowl-clinching touchdown in 1999.
There were some nice moments I'll always remember as well. The "Eide Bowl", with walk-on fullback Jon Eide assuming a starring role in Stanford's win over Washington State in 1998. Taking The Axe back in 1995. A gut-check win in Nor'easter conditions against Notre Dame in 2001.
But when I think about many of the memorable plays and moments that occurred on the field, one recurring character appears: a tiny receiver with big-play ability named Troy Walters. How many big moments did he have at Stanford Stadium? I can still see him weaving through the Cougars on a dazzling 75-yard punt return for a score in 1996. It was pouring that afternoon, but I don't think Walters even got wet that day. He dodged not only every Cougar in sight, but probably all the raindrops that day, too!
I can still see him connecting with Todd Husak with frightening regularity and breathtaking efficiency.
Of course, Walters' masterpiece came at Stanford Stadium against UCLA in 1999. Everyone remembers his 98-yard touchdown catch, but few remember a 50-yarder he made earlier in that game. Even with the defender draped all over him like a cheap powder blue suit, Walters hauled in a juggling, falling work of art. Might have been his best catch ever. In all, nine catches for 278 yards and three scores. During a commercial break in that game, Bob Murphy declared Walters the best Stanford receiver he had ever seen. He was certainly the best receiver I ever saw at Stanford Stadium.
Of course, for all the on-field memories I have of the old Stanford Stadium, there are plenty of off-field memories as well. Like calling some pretty good games back in the mid-1990s for KZSU. Watching countless games with Murph on my left and Ted Robinson on my right. Being in the locker room when a dejected Bill Walsh gave his locker room speech following a Big Game loss in 1993. Meeting John Elway and hanging out with him for a few moments. Yes, even using the press box urinal trough next to Keith Jackson during halftime of the UCLA game in 2001, easily one of the highlights of my career.
We froze. We roasted. We cheered. We groaned. We won. We lost. We experienced all of those things together. For all the complaints we had about the old Stanford Stadium, it was still our house.
I'm sure many folks would love to be the first to personally swing a wrecking ball into the old girl. Heck, I wouldn't mind getting in a few swings myself. But while all of us will be saying "good riddance", I can't help but also say "goodbye."
RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS
A physical, suffocating, and overpowering defense. A quarterback who only needed to make one big play - and did. A pretty decent rushing attack. Stanford made the cal Bears look like the 2000 Baltimore Ravens…
Anyone else notice that cal QB Steve Levy was wearing, of all things, a red shirt and tie during his pregame TV interviews for ABC?
First UC Davis. Then UCLA. Then double whammies on Saturday against UC Irvine and UC Berkeley. At this rate, it wouldn't surprise me to see UC Riverside and UC Santa Cruz calling up Bill Walsh and looking for scheduling opportunities…
Oregon continues to lower the bar when it comes to uniforms. Just when I thought Oregon's uniforms couldn't possibly get any worse, they took the field against the Beavers. They looked like they belonged in Rollerball. The old school version, not that crappy remake that came out a few years ago. I almost started chanting "Jon-a-than! Jon-a-than! Jon-a-than!"…
Even Mother Nature didn't like Oregon's unis... why do you think there was so much fog in Eugene last Saturday night?
If U$C-Fresno State had been broadcast by ABC or ESPN, it would have been rerun every night this week on ESPN Classic. What a thrill ride that was… kinda like one of those early-round March Madness games. The kind where the timeout gets called with inside eight minutes to go, and the scrappy underdog has a real chance to put the heavy favorite on the ropes, and the whole building is buzzing with that whole "could-this-really-happen?" vibe. That was fun…
Hold your phone calls. We have your Heisman Trophy winner. His name is Reggie Bush…
After their performance last week, I'll be interested to see whether Fresno State becomes a more attractive team for the larger-profile programs to put on their schedule, or whether the "big boys" look at the Bulldogs, look at the near-result against U$C (and the real results against Kansas State and Wisconsin in years past) and avoid them like the plague…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… just a masterful drive by Troy Smith in the final moments of that Ohio State-Michigan game. And afterwards, at the first opportunity he had, he promptly thanked his offensive line on national TV. Troy Smith scored a lot of points with me over the weekend…
Not a Pac-10 thought, but… have a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend! We'll do this again next week for the final Corner of the regular season…
Arizona @ Arizona State. How can I possibly pick the Wildcats after that stinkbomb they dropped against the Huskies the other week? Especially with Michael Thomas dinged up? The good news for the Wildcats is that they're facing the equally inconsistent Sun Devils. And while I think there's a very good chance for the Wildcats to possibly win this one, I like Arizona State by 14.
Last week: 1-1 (straight-up), 0-2 (ATS).
This year: 20-10 (straight-up), 14-16 (ATS).
Troy Clardy is a host and reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, airing Saturdays on FSN Bay Area.
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